Long time no speak!
I just got back home to Toronto, where apartments changed while I was away… Brand new place! Pretty sweet! Loved ones and friends helped make it possible, and I am very much appreciative.
But ya, I was on tour in the US. The tour was supposed to coincide with the release of my ‘War On Rock n Roll’ LP, but due to problems at the plant (and my luck), shit was delayed. In any case, it was cool and fun (mostly) to play some places I had never been, AND the LP is finally out now! There were good times and bad. You may have noticed I took down my Facebook page. It was a longtime coming. The last straw was a post-Puerto Rico teenage gossip/bullshit blowout, started by angry hipsters, confused and ill-informed people who weren’t even at the show, and boy-band ‘fans’ – it felt like I had Britney Spears crazies on my back. People have asked what had happened in Puerto Rico. Let me explain…
I started this little journey in Florida. The shows were fun, but small. I think people have expectations sometimes that these shows will be massive, due especially to the fact that I was in ‘The King Khan & BBQ Show’ and due to Khan’s popularity. Well, that all sounds reasonable, until you realize that most people don’t care about music, so much as image and ‘cool’, etc… Khan and I will always be brothers, and in fact are playing 2 Canadian dates together in July (Toronto & Vancouver), but I will be the first to admit that his persona is far more entertaining and accessible than mine will ever be. Dude worked his ass off to solidify his persona as ‘iconic’ as you can get in the ‘garage rock’ world. The Shrines most certainly paid their dues to get where they are, and are a super-top-notch band. They are awesome. Put them together, and you have something amazing.
King Khan & The Shrines always did very well in Europe, but had never done that well in the USA, having never been, nor having anything released there. This is where I enter. I was going by the monicker of ‘BBQ’ for a few years, having released an album in Germany and also one on ‘Bomp! Records’, before releasing anything with Khan. The ‘BBQ’ name was why the band was ‘The King Khan & BBQ Show’ and not ‘King Khan & The BBQ Show’ – plain as day on ANY release, but most folks who do the hyping in this world don’t pay attention to detail or reality, or even buy music.
So, originally, we were two guys in a band, Khan being the extroverted entertainer, and I, taking on the role of the grumpy introvert. Our goal was always to exaggerate our inherent personalities to maximize the yin-yang of it all, and make something magickal. What happened was that most people were taken aback by Khan’s antics (which were awesome, admittedly), and invisibility set in for me – which was ok, at the time, as I tried focusing more on the songwriting side, and singing my ass off. I am the kind of person who can only be himself – it’s to my detriment. So ya, I figured the songs i wrote and sang would be ‘my’ star, and it seemed as though the music held some importance while we were playing, as people sang along, etc… But as the band ‘grew’, and as more folks came to shows, it became more and more obvious that people were either there to be ‘seen’ or to play dress-up for a night – the music was secondary, at best. I am unsure as to whether or not people actually care about this music, these songs, or need to have the music presented in another context to enjoy it – tho it’s the exact same music in any situation. Like the Pepsi challenge. But more embarrassing.
I just did an interview today, and people still mention The King Khan & BBQ Show. Fair enough, and I am good with talking about the band I was in and wrote and performed great songs with. I know that I don’t have the ‘cache’ on my own, but listen to the music before you cast your apathy, and realize that in the same way you mention me in association with KKBBQ, I continue to write and sing from the same place that brought you a lot of that stuff (which you supposedly ‘love’). And that’s what it’s all about, not the band so much, but my connection with a band I am VERY proud to have played in, but that most people reference not even knowing much about it, cuz they feel they have to.
In fact, most folks don’t even know I was in that band or that I made this same music before it, or if they DO know, seem to think I was ‘The BBQ Show’ – like Khan’s ‘other’ back-up band, like I didn’t write or sing a bunch of stuff. It was frustrating at times, but never soul-crushing. We helped open the floodgates for The Shrines stranglehold on the US, sometimes as festivals, magazines, etc couldn’t differentiate between KKBBQ and the Shrines, as they just saw the King Khan name and didn’t actually care about or listened to the music. They just followed the trail of hype. A good example was the Pitchfork festival using a song I had wrote and sang in the King Khan & BBQ Show (‘I’ll Never Belong’), as a King Khan & The Shrines song on their Pitchfork Festival promo CD. Nice! Particularly awesome since they always slag my shit. That all being said, I have been privvy to both sides of things in my life, having played big fests, and even sucking at the corporate tit. I just didn’t enjoy it. In a perfect world, everybody would be so lucky as to see a band as great as King Khan & The Shrines because of what they are.
I am unsure of what exactly Vice or anyone else did to cloud the differences of the two bands, but I have a feeling a lot of what our band did and achieved was absorbed as passes for The Shrines move (to the gain of bigger entities) into the imagination of the North American hype-o-sphere – and, again, this is not to take away from what KK & The Shrines are as an awesome, powerhouse band. They deserve respect and success. I just think my own contribution in MY band was used as some fuel – a push – for this other juggernaut. Conversely, people later came to a KKBBQ show and were pissed at me cuz I wasn’t the Shrines (learn how to read or know what you like)! This is what media does. It champions someone or something and created a mythos built on some truth/some bullshit. It asks the tastemakers and youth markets what they want, and gussies it all up to make more money for whomever.
I am temporarily stuck as the footnote to the story (but I do believe when the hipster dust settles, years from now, the important MUSIC will be eternal, and I do think some of my stuff IS important enough to live on), which is ok. I never foresaw my ‘career’ as ever catering to massive crowds. ‘Garage rock’ has always been small-scale music to me, and is on one level a reason I always come back to it. I try to be as honest as possible. Capturing the imagination of a trust-fund asshole and his slumming peers for a year or two, while I act like a clown for their private party is NOT what I ever wanted to be doing. I don’t need the approval of magazines and blogs and their dangerous tunnelvision. And I am OKAY WITH THIS. I have chosen (but also have been relegated, to an extent) to walk the smaller path.
So Florida was weird, but fun. I hit Miami and played a discotheque, and had sound issues. I dunno… I let the hatred get the better of me and really put on a bad performance, which was abusive and subpar. I, unfortunately, lose control, sometimes, and am ‘unprofessional’ and ruinous, mean and disrespectful. And then I am disappointed in myself… Conversely, I can be very charming, generous, funny and kind. I can play an awesome, glowing and inspiring show. This happens more often than not, but negativity makes good chit-chat and can be used as fodder to tighten sheep/mob allegiance, so you won’t hear of it. At this point on tour, I also had a lot of personal shit going down, which was seeping into my musical being. And that sucks and is my fault.
Next day, I flew out to San Juan, and was SUPER stoked. I was hoping this would cleanse my brain. I also had such a great time last time I was there; met great folks, ate well, saw so many amazing things… So I got there, and everything was cool. One thing was that my Florida driver came along cuz he wanted to, and even tho he said he would be invisible, wasn’t, and added stress, and in the end, the dude said a lot of weird shit about me/to me, even though I never said I was a travel-agent or babysitter. No hard feelings, though.
My show was bumped from the Saturday to the Sunday, and I had only heard of this a week before (or less), and that kind of bummed me out, cuz I could have played a Saturday show in Florida or something. But I was assured it was for the best, cuz there was a very popular Salsa show happening on Saturday. My friends got me in, and yes, the show was fantastic! But it was also 25$, and I really didn’t see any people there who would be at one of my shows. I thought maybe it was cuz one of the promoters just wanted to go. Fair enough, but the assumption left a bad taste in my mouth the next day (Sunday), when the show, which was supposed to start at 6pm, only started closer to 9 or 10.
The bar I played was really nice and the owner-guy was, also. But I was slipping into darkness as I saw Los Vigilantes play (who were really great) with no real working mics, etc… I knew what was coming… As I set up, they informed me that the soundman had taken off and they would have to do something. My usual set up of splitting between bass and guitar amp would have to be nixed, as I borrowed a small guitar amp. Already my sound was thinning out. And then the broken vocal micstands. Not enough mics for equipent. Then the feedback, and smiles from the promoters etc… What you have to understand is that I have been in that situation a billion times, and that the idea of ‘this is punk!’ doesn’t escape me, but it DOESN’T MAKE IT OK. I am in Puerto Rico. I flew out to play, and am fighting sound, which although beneficial to a ‘punk band’, doesn’t work for mine. I rely on my voice and melody to carry stuff, for example. And again, I have been down this road a million times. Just not into it.
So we all start trying to figure out stuff and I hear someone laugh, and perhaps wrongly, think it’s directed at me. This causes me to start being really surly. I dunno if it’s the thought of being alone, so far away from home or what, but I start saying dumb shit like ‘Go fuck a turtle’ and the inane ‘I’ll eat the shit off of your Grandma’s cunt’. What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine. What I will say is that it was rude and stupid of me. BUT I played a seemingly intense and GREAT show, aside from calling dudes ‘cunts’ etc… I was enraged, but a lot of what I was doing was your boring, run-of-the-mill, punk baiting. The reaction from these white-belt ‘punks’ who were so ‘punk’ about my ‘punk’ sound issues was very surprising – they seemed betrayed or something. Afterwards, I got into some verbal shit, unfairly, with the seriously awesome Carlos (Davila 666) and his beautiful girl, Minina. I decided (as did they), that it was best I leave – I got the boot. So I then said ‘fuck it’, and decided to leave the island, altogether, bummed and upset at myself. I left the next day. I remain very sorry for a lot of my behaviour.
Next thing I know, I am on Facebook, and I started getting a bunch of angry messages, at first from local, thin-skinned hipsters, then Davila 666 members and their little fanclub of ‘cool’ knobs. Listen to me very closely: I will fully admit that I said a lot of terrible things at the show. Sure. BUT what kind of GARBAGE were these fucking fake-ass, hipster, corporate-cock-sucking, trend-hopping cunts in Davila 666 saying and spreading? That all of my bullshit was a PERSONAL ATTACK on Puerto Rico, that I am racist (!!), etc… Absolutely wrong, dangerous and irresponsible. One of the cunts even Facebooked me death-threats (not the only one) and talked shit about my Mom, Canada, called me a ‘white bitch’ and ‘gringo’ racist (?!?!?). This ‘punk’ band, that fucking relies on hipster-assed ‘gringos’ to listen to their fake-assed prefab music, is calling me out??? When I was right there, alone, and he didn’t say shit to my face? Add onto that ANOTHER member of this flavor-of-the-week, meat-grinder-of-popular-and-obvious-modern-influence-into-pap, BULLSHIT band, who had told me the night before he didn’t even listen to or LIKE ‘garage rock’, telling me how they (Davila 666) had been making this music as long as I have, telling me I am bitter cuz I live under Khan’s shadow, that all I do is rip off 60’s R&B stuff, that I am delusional, that they have soooo many friends, etc…
Let me address this all, right now: I am only bitter that these shit-ass bands are able to exist and defecate all over a scene people like myself, my friends, my heroes, my peers and even my enemies built up and/or celebrated, with love. That you think having tons of friends means anything to you says it all: who gives a fuck??? You suck cocks so you can step stones. ‘Success’ to these kinds of bands is all about some delusional notion of ‘fame’ (albeit, SO FUCKING SMALL SCALE), making fast friends, sponsors, money, doing drugs (woooowwwwwww, mannnn), and all of the other bullshit accoutrements associated with fucking mainstream idealism which many in this fucking scene have been fighting against for years – striving to ‘make it’ is fucking SHIT. Case fucking closed. I don’t live in shadows, cuz I don’t fucking worry about popularity and friends and obsess over media coverage and clothes and bullshit. I have faith in my MUSIC. I am NOT a politician. I am a musician. Your band name… You fucking covered ‘Hangin On The Telephone’!!! ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS???
When a kid discovers music that affects his or her heart in 20 years from now, it may not be mine, but it certainly won’t be the aural Rubik’s Cube that these bands are. Fucking PUTRID, trendy bullshit. And you seriously think you have paid dues, done this as long as I? Really?! I have DESTROYED myself for this music for YEARS, because I NEED to, to SURVIVE, to keep a semblance of sanity. Not to wear white fucking sunglasses. You think all I do is 60’s R&B ripoffs? I have released so much stuff, touching upon so much shit that I love… I can’t even begin to entertain the fucking gall of that statement. So these ‘punks’ threaten me. They disrespected me and my family. Why? Cuz I was rude at a show.
Fuck all of these ‘bands’. Seriously. When you decide to make a gothic swing/ska dubstep album, I will STILL be RIGHT HERE, sleeping on floors and playing my heart out to a rock’n’roll beat. All of you who are playing to ‘make it’, to mirror the mainstream: enjoy your slumming, but do NOT fuck with me. You may not even realize how much I affected and influenced your own music (seriously, you may wanna actually take a listen to my catalog, or listen to stuff, in general, more than 3 years old), cuz your information was disseminated in the same way your band’s name and music is: stupidly, ruthlessly and wrongly, immediacy being the name of the game. You will soon find something else, running with daddy’s money onto the next thing, glowsticks in hand. I sometimes almost regret being a dick at shows or to certain people – it isn’t fair or right of me. But then I realize most of the people and acts people like are smiling on the outside and shaking and lubing your hand, while stabbing at your very soul.
You wanna let this continue or can we stop it all NOW?
Let me be very clear about my thoughts on Puerto Rico: I wanted to go back because I thought it was beautiful and urban-idyllic. That folks were really very nice and hospitable. That the culture is amazing. AND I STILL DO, regardless of the whiny bullshit, the threats, the ‘punk attitude’, I have to endure. My name is Marco Antonio Pepe. I am from Montreal, Canada. The same lexicon of racism you throw me into as a ‘gringo’ is wrong, and ultimately racist on its own. I am a rock’n’roller. I am a punk rocker. I am a hobo. An explorer. An asshole at times, but I am a real person.
So here I am… I go on tour again in a week. I am very excited to play newer places, meet new folks, turn some people on, anger some, but ultimately to play my music, for good or bad. I will let my music do the talking. If you like it, cool. If not, no problem. I realize that you can read this, call me a bitter fuck, or even an elitist myself. I would argue that. Bitter? Nah, maybe a few years ago, but I am happy man now, having walked thru a tunnel. Just disappointed. I’m all for progress and change, but I need to believe in things. Elitist? No way. Show me a kid who just discovered Black Lips or Sonics or whatever, and I am stoked. Cuz at that nascent stage, the kid is being genuine. And can flip that interest into something that transcends the moment. That kid could be the next Eddie Cochran. Who knows? And I would be sooo happy to have the luck of my music meaning something to that one kid. Maybe a few of my songs will be comped as obscurities and cherished by someone as I did many of my own inspirations. That would mean the world.
Do you know who started the whole myth that only hipsters call other folks hipsters? Hipsters. Actual hipsters. Or those memes making fun of folks who liked stuff ‘before it was cool’? Hipsters, or people who never had the nerve to like something without peer approval. Because, like it or not, when something is sullied, it starts sucking. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I was IPod DJing before it was cool’? No. Cuz it isn’t cool. And these dudes have to make fun of people they shit upon to excuse themselves. I have worn the same clothes for 17 years and burned many a bridge to be writing this today. I was never ‘cool’, nor were a lot of my friends or one-hit heroes I grew up listening to. And that is totally cool by me. I don’t have a fan club on my side, nor conglomerates holding my hand, nor a throng of popular scenesters backing me up. I do most everything myself. For love and necessity.
You have my word that I will try my best.
This is officially my War On Rock n Roll.
May 23rd: Detroit, MI – PJ’s Lager House
May 24th: Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
May 25th: Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club
May 26th: Minneapolis, MN – Turf Club
May 28th: Omaha, NE – Slowdown
May 29th: Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note
May 31st: Dallas, TX – City Tavern
June 1st: Austin, TX – Scoot-Inn (Chaos In Tejas)
June 2nd: Houston, TX – Continental Club
June 4th: Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone
June 5th: Nashville, TN – Zombie Shop
June 7th: Cincinnati, OH – Motr
June 8th: Columbus, OH – Ace Of Cups
June 9th: Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
June 15th: Montreal, QC – Sala Rosa (Suoni Del Popolo)
July 6th: Moncton, NB – The Manhattan
July 7th: Halifax, NS – Michael’s Bar
June 16th: Montreal, QC – Il Motore (Suoni Del Popolo)
The King Khan & BBQ Show
July 13th: Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
July 14th: Vancouver, BC – Biltmore
EUROPEAN DATES for AUGUST/SEPTEMBER coming SOON